Promoting the Growth of Fourth Industrial Revolution Information Communication Technology Students: The Implications for Open and Distance E-Learning

Promoting the Growth of Fourth Industrial Revolution Information Communication Technology Students: The Implications for Open and Distance E-Learning

Dalize Van Heerden (University of South Africa, South Africa) and Leilani Goosen (University of South Africa, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4882-0.ch005
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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is providing readers with an overview of the content promoting the growth of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the implications for information and communication technology (ICT) open distance e-learning (ODeL) students. Preparing students for the 4IR presents important and complicated opportunities towards changing higher education. Education should be about content design and delivery for teaching, learning, and assessment, with the profile of ODeL ICT students at the core. This chapter reports on issues, controversies, and problems arising from the 4IR. The mixed-method research approach adopted involved collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data obtained from first-year courses at a Southern Africa institution. The emerging picture cautions concerning students' real biographic information and digital literacy in a developing world context. The conclusion summarizes the content and informs instructors to examine their perceptions of student profiles regarding teaching, learning, and assessment in preparation for the 4IR.
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Introduction

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) feels like the ghost in the machine. It is coming or may already be here. It seems to be all around. However, there is no common understanding of what 4IR means. There are many names and definitions for the 4IR. 4IR is the naming convention used, as it is a widely communicated definition (World Economic Forum (WEF) Asian Development Bank (ADB), 2017). The latter positions the First Industrial Revolution to be that of water and steam power towards mechanization, while the Second Industrial Revolution was based on mass production, the division of labor, assembly lines, and electricity. According to Rouse (2017), the Third Industrial Revolution, which is also called the digital revolution, is seen as involving the development of computers, electronics, Information Technology (IT) and automated production “since the middle of the 20th century.”

The 4IR is about the emergence and penetration of “the current and developing environment in which” very advanced, highly disruptive Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC&C) technologies and IT trends (Bolton, Goosen, & Kritzinger, 2016), “such as the Internet of Things (IoT),” Virtual Reality (VR), networks, Artificial Intelligence “(AI), robotics, blockchain and 3D printing, that are transforming” (WEF ADB, 2017, p. 4) “spheres of life never before imagined, from” Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) to enterprise digitization enabled by embedding technology within our larger societies, cultural community lives, and even in the home and the human body (Bozzoli, 2019).

Preparing students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is of paramount importance and could be complicated and dialectical, with numerous opportunities towards changing higher education. All education systems should be designed for teaching, learning and assessing the knowledge of students; the core of any educational system should thus always be the student. With the student being the core of the educational system, the profile of Open and Distance e-Learning (ODeL) Information and Communication Technology (ICT) student determine the design and delivery of content. Like the book, this chapter will therefore concentrate on the role of formal education in preparing students for uncertain futures, and for societies that are changing at great speed in terms of its ability to drive job creation, economic growth and the prosperity for millions in the future.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide readers with an overview of the content exploring aspects regarding promoting the growth of the 4IR for ICT students, together with the implications for ODeL. It aims to unpack some of the issues around 4IR, with reference to the context of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) and innovation.

Universities need to become more agile and find time to not only keep on mastering new technologies, but, in fact, use Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) to facilitate teaching and learning (Libbrecht & Goosen, 2016). Change management will have to be the new normal across all Information and Communication Technology departments. And now, more than ever before, fingers should be kept on the pulse of change – sharing knowledge with peers and colleagues. Exciting times lie ahead for the industry, and by working together, universities will be able stay ahead of these changes, and overcome challenges to be more competitive globally.

The qualifications applicable to this study are the Diploma in Information Technology, Bachelor of Science in Computing and the Bachelor of Science in Informatics. These qualifications are offered by the University of South Africa (UNISA), which is the largest Open and Distance e-Learning institution in Africa and the longest standing dedicated distance education university in the world. The main objectives of these qualifications are to provide students with the abilities to demonstrate an understanding of the underlying concepts and principles of computing, together with choosing the ‘best’ and most applicable and applying these in programming languages in the workplace (Goosen, 2008). The students should also show a high level of cognitive and other generic skills, including problem solving, as well as those related to written and spoken communication.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Institution: The ODeL institution has state-of-the-art technology and technologically literate staff to assist facilitators with the design, development and production of quality ODeL material, as well as to provide technical support.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT): Any device used for creating and/or capturing, storing, processing, managing, as well as any dissemination/transmission/transfer and/or display of data and information by using digital means.

Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)Family-Centricity: The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is about the emergence and penetration of very advanced disruptive Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC&C) technologies and Information Technology (IT) trends, such as Virtual Reality (VR), networks, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics, which bringing changes, from Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) involving new ways in which we work in terms of enterprise digitization enabled through embedding technology within our larger societies, cultural community lives, to even in the home and the human body.

Open and Distance E-Learning (ODeL): In ODeL, technology is used for teaching and e-learning, student support and communication.

E-Learning: Learning that takes place via the internet, using a variety of devices to access the web.

Students: Are the center, around which Open and Distance e-Learning environments pivot, which means that certain requirements need to be met to ensure they are able to succeed.

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA): Those African countries located towards the south of the Sahara Desert.

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